making myself a priorityA guest post written by Jen Robinson, Lifewrangling blog

As parents we are always looking for ways to give our children opportunities.  We sign them up for sport, music, scouts, things that enable them to develop their talents and find enjoyment in learning new skills, working as a team and achieving their goals.  We realize the importance of this for our children.  Why then do we find it so difficult to understand the importance of these things for ourselves?  We often believe that we don’t have the time and stop doing those things that are good for our physical and mental health including healthy eating, exercise routines and hobbies.

It doesn’t have to be that way though and with a little bit of planning these important activities can return into our lives.

Healthy eating

At times I find it difficult to get enough fruit and vegetables into my diet, so one thing I like to do is have a fresh juice with my breakfast. I throw all sorts of things in and sometimes they can end up a strange color but mostly they taste very nice and I feel great for the rest of the day. To save time, I prepare the ingredients for a number of breakfasts at the same time and bag them up.  Then, all I have to do in the morning is grab a package, feed the ingredients into the juicer and enjoy.

 

I use this same practice to make my lunches.  I don’t know why but it seems to take no time at all to put together something healthy if I do it the evening before but if I leave it for the morning rush, it can all seem too hard and I end up grabbing just about anything.

Exercise

The physical drain on busy parents can be huge and it often seems like too much effort to exercise as well.  The funny thing is that when I am feeling tired, it’s often exercising that will give me the extra energy I need to get through the day.  There are two main ways I have found to tackle this problem.

I make exercise the first thing I do in the morning. Yes, this means I need to get up before everyone else and sometimes it’s the last thing I feel like doing.  I know however that I will never find time to do it after I have finished everything else because, let’s just face it, the chores are never ever finished.  I have to make time, not find time and get it done early before I get distracted by all of my other competing commitments.  One way I trick myself into actually getting out to do it is by having an exercise buddy.  It’s a lot harder to roll over and go back to sleep if I know my friend is on the corner waiting for me.

I find ways to include movement as a part of my everyday life with my family.  I love taking the kids and the dog to the beach, my daughter and I enjoy the water slides at the local pool and the whole family likes bushwalking on a weekend.  To begin with I wondered whether any of these things could legitimately be called exercising but considering how my leg muscles feel the day after climbing all of those steps to the top of the waterslide, I know that they can.

 

Hobbies

It’s important that we make time to do something that is completely unrelated to caring for others. It’s so easy to lose ourselves in the wants and needs of everyone else and neglect our own.

Ever since I was a child I have taken dance classes and while I don’t pretend to be any good at it, I do love it. In our family we have an agreement that on Tuesday nights when I have dancing, my husband does not make any plans and on Wednesday when he plays water polo, I don’t.

 

Of course, there are times when other things crop up.  Then it is the responsibility of the parent who would normally be at home with the children to find some way of making this work.  Maybe they will get in a babysitter, enlist the help of a relative or take the children with them.  In this way we show each other how much we value the other person’s interests.

 A happier life

If we take the time to look after ourselves, it is our families who will see the benefits.  Parents who are eating healthy food, taking time to exercise and giving themselves space to indulge in hobbies will be much happier and more capable of giving their full attention and energy to their families than those who do not.

Jen blogs at www.Lifewrangling.com where she gives honest, practical advice to parents about managing a crazy busy life.  All subscribers to her site will receive a free gift ’10 time saving tricks for busy parents.’

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